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No longer is it a struggle for Branch County farmers to find agribusiness news with a local impact.
Local radio station, AM 1590 WTVB, now employs the services of Branch County's own certified farm director, Rick Shields. Bringing more than thirty years of experience in the field, Shields will provide multiple daily reports covering industry trends, market reports, and agribusiness news that influence the agricultural sector of Branch and neighboring counties.
Shields came to Michigan in 2000 after hosting early morning and midday farm reports on stations in Colorado, Montana and Texas. He is an active member and supporter of area agriculture organizations and events, as well as a distinguished member of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting. A long-time associate of the Kalamazoo 4-H Advisory Board and promoter of county fairs and FFA activities, Shields has earned great notoriety among farmers and agri-business stakeholders. In 2003 the Michigan Farm Bureau named him Farm Broadcaster of the Year, an award based on listener nominations, broadcasting excellence, and community involvement.
In addition, Shields is among an exclusive few independent farm directors in the State of Michigan certified by the National Association of Farm Broadcasting. Such credentials are only awarded to those who produce and deliver agri-business news on a full-time basis, regularly attend professional meetings, and coordinate information sharing within the NAFB organization. "NAFB-Certified Farm Directors should be 100-percent focused on agriculture and the needs of individual producers while, at the same time, able to communicate the story of agriculture to the wider community of consumers," explains Shields.
WTVB gained access to Shields through parent company, Midwest Communications, Inc.'s recent acquisition of Fairfield Broadcasting in Kalamazoo. Although already established as an affiliate of the Michigan Farm Radio Network, for WTVB Program Director, Heather Daniels, making the switch was logical. "For years, Branch County farmers and those with a vested interest in agri-business have tuned to AM 1590 for daily reports from the MFRN. However, with the acquisition of Fairfield Radio, WTVB recognized the tremendous value a local farm director would have in Branch County, especially one of Rick Shields' caliber. Rick has been a broadcaster for over thirty years, twenty of which he has devoted to farm broadcasting. That alone lends a great deal of expertise to our local farm reporting and allows us to deliver even more accurate Branch County-focused reporting."
Farm Director Rick Shields is also a key component of the station's mission to provide a voice to all sectors of Branch County. "While the MFRN reports were informative, much of that information had to appeal to the state's broader agricultural market. Rick allows us to closely monitor, study, and report from the farms and agri-business sectors in our own backyards," Daniels explained.
For the latest in Branch County and West Michigan agri-business news, listen for Farm Director Rick Shields weekdays at 5:45 AM, 6:30 AM, and 12:45 PM on the Voice of Branch County for Agriculture, AM 1590 WTVB.